The Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems must work together to defeat SNP - Brian Monteith
If ever proof was required that the greatest threat to devolution in Scotland, indeed to democracy itself, is the Scottish National Party it is now being provided by the First Minister and her government. Every day she resists the vote of the Scottish Parliament to provide the evidence to the Salmond Inquiry she originally promised – and avoids establishing a full inquiry into her government’s handling of the care homes during the Covid pandemic – is testimony to a shameless pursuit of power without accountability.
One might have thought the SNP would treat the Scottish Parliament with religious respect, that their mantra of the Scottish people being sovereign would mean a majority vote by elected members would be obeyed without question? But no, it appears the First Minister is not going to let the instructions agreed by elected members to cause her such inconvenience or discomfort.
The leadership of the parties that supported the motions should now consider jointly what further parliamentary procedures they have at their disposal that could put more pressure on the Government. Making meetings inquorate by leaving a room so legislation is slowed down or approval of budgets is delayed are, if possible, all legitimate tactics to keep the SNP’s disregard for democracy in the public eye.
More importantly the party leaderships need to step back and recognise what they actually did last week. By working together the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Greens defeated the SNP. I can’t see any public outrage because these parties worked together to achieve this entirely reasonable outcome. Defeating the government when it is suspected of incompetence and possibly a cover up is the least expected of oppositions.
Having achieved these two wins they must now work together much more, for they have a common interest in holding the SNP government to account for the horrendous state of our education and h ealth services and so much more.
Ask yourself, as the party leaders should ask themselves; are the differences between the three main opposition parties really so large that any one of them has more in common with the SNP than with their opposition brethren? Really?
SNP politicians never stop reminding us “independence transcends everything” – a week does not pass without their actions to break up Britain coming before the efficient management of our public services. They make civil service and parliamentary time available for it, taxpayer-funded human and financial resources available for it and they place it at the top of the agenda – ensuring every government decision is taken through the prism of how it impacts on the campaign for secession
Does it come before improving our schools, ending the scandalous shortages of GPs and hospital consultants for you?
The lesson for the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats is there is much that can be achieved by them working together. They should, together, be focusing on all the SNP failures in economy, e ducation, h ealth, housing, transport, hustice, etc – as well as Covid. But to deliver on public services requires first to get the SNP out of office. That is what – for them – should transcend everything.
They need to be honest with themselves and the Scottish public. If the SNP is beyond the pale because of Nicola Sturgeon’s insistence on putting independence before everything and in so doing refusing to obey the will of Parliament – which, in the matters that Holyrood has been given responsibility for, is indeed the will of the people – then the SNP must be replaced as the party of government. As there is no likelihood of any anti-nationalist party commanding an overall majority under a proportional voting system, at least two but more likely three parties – the same three pro-Union parties that gathered together last week – will need to look to form an administration after the Holyrood elections.
There really is no other way to provide an alternative government. It doesn’t matter, for now, who would be First Minister, what matters is that it is recognised and accepted there will be no other way to remove the SNP. Once the party leaderships move out of their self-defeating denial of this reality the opportunities for saving our schools, hospitals and communities suddenly become momentous. Being able to actually change people’s lives for the better becomes real overnight and being in politics suddenly will be worthwhile.
Rather than wait for the outcome of the election – when they have been competing against each other and making it easy for the SNP to divide and rule – they should declare they wish to end the plague on our public services that is the SNP – by fighting them together. Competition between them to come up with fresh ideas would not end – but they could start by explaining how they would be more competent, open and transparent.
As a starting point all sitting MSPs of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrats seeking re-election should be backed by their political cousins against the SNP. No competing candidates should be fielded. Then the parties should discuss which SNP seats they’ll fight and support each other.
A similar arrangement can be made for the lists, with room given to Alliance4Unity candidates to help maximise support.
In a survey of 2,000 Union supporters anti-nationalist campaign Scotland Matters found 93 per cent would like to vote for a single opposition candidate against the SNP. There’s more that binds them than the nationalism that cuts and divides us. The mainstream parties must own up – without solidarity, if they don’t hang together they’ll hang separately.
Brian Monteith is editor of ThinkScotland.org
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